Children also battle cancer – Matilda Obiajunwa

Matilda Obiajunwa, founder, Daivyan Children Cancer Foundation, speaks on childhood cancer on World Cancer Day. WORLD Cancer Day was celebrated on February 4. On that day, everybody seemed to be talking about all the different cancers from the most common which is breast cancer to prostrate cancer and without attention paid to childhood cancer. As bad and tragic as it sounds, cancer affects everybody, including a baby born today.

Meanwhile, nobody should  be left out of the cancer discourse. The good news is that cancer in adults, if detected early, the survival rate can get as high as 80%, but the reverse is the case with children in low income countries like ours where 80% is lost every year to cancer. As expensive as this deadly disease is to manage, we need to help children battle it.

HMOs cannot foot the bill, families lose hope as they watch their young ones give in to the battle against cancer due to lack of funds, lack of good support system, lack of quality and functional medical facilities.  This may shock you: In Nigeria, there are just about nine radiotherapy machines but only two are functional at a time, leaving over 20 million Nigerians on queue for radiotherapy treatment. And radiotherapy is a major form of treatment in cancer management while drugs are so expensive that even rich parents sell off their properties to fund treatments for their young ones.  Poor families are worst hit and misdiagnosis rampant. I am a mother of a survivor by the grace of God, but in the past, I have experienced the shock of realizing that there was a misdiagnosis. As an individual, organization, society, government, what are you doing to help these children overcome this menace? You  can help in your own little way to create awareness that will aid early detection. You can help to support families of little children battling cancer; You can help to implement policies that will ensure children battling cancer get prompt, quality and affordable or free medical services; You can help to ensure that government looks into the case of childhood cancer in Nigeria and  to make life easier for our children battling it. In Lagos University Teaching Hospital alone, every week at least 3 children are newly diagnosed with cancer. I speak up so that everyone can know that childhood cancer is real. Look out for the signs and help save that child. The symptoms are there: A lump in any part of the body, drastic weight loss, recurrent high fever, bleeding or excessive bruising, swollen tummy, pain in the joints or parts of the body. Get that child to see a doctor, the cause of these symptoms may not be cancer, but if it is early detection can save lives. For collaboration to end childhood cancer, I can be reached via @matdivdavy



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